Mulch Leaves in Your Michigan Lawns
Mulch Those Michigan Leaves!
The rush to rake, bag and dispose of grass clipping and leaves practiced in the past several decades has been officially replaced with the more environmentally friendly option of mulching. This practice is relatively new; it has now officially replaced the belief that grass clippings and leaf refuse left behind on the yard is, in fact, bad for it.
Experts now suggest running a lawn mower over the leaves on your yard to mulch them. It’s not too late to elevate your mower deck to the highest setting and give your lawn a once or twice over to gain the benefits of mulched leaves. As long as there is no snow on the ground, you can continue to perform this care on your Michigan lawn.
Mulching Benefits and Best Practices
Studies have shown that mulching your leaves can actually greatly benefit your yard. They provide free organic matter that infuses your grass, flowers and shrubs with essential nutrients. Mulching also provides a tiny ecosystem that’s beneficial for critters, giving them a place to nest and hide throughout the winter. Add excess leaf mulch to your flower beds and to your landscaping; by the time spring rolls around, this mulch will have completely biodegraded.
Utilizing the fallen leaves doesn’t mean that you leave the entire leaf where it falls — this can block the sunlight and air from reaching the grass. This problem can be compounded when the snow falls, turning the leaves into a soggy, matted mess. This is where lawn and mulching mowers come in. Mulching can be done well into the fall. On slightly dewy fall mornings before the snow has begun to fall, gather your mower or mulching mower and get to work!
Mulching mowers can handle up to six inches of leaves at a time in one pass; however, a traditional mower with a raised deck may take several passes to adequately shred those leaves into a fine mulch. A benefit of a mulching mower is that it uses its mowing blades in addition to a “baffling,” which cuts the leaves several times, obliterating them into a fine pulp. Think of it as leaf confetti for your yard!
Dismayed at the “leaf residue” left behind? Not to worry. This only lasts for a few days. According to Michigan State University Extension, these pieces will sift down into the turf, providing ample nutrients. And since we live in a cold area, the snow cover will surely come soon, further blanketing any leaf residue left behind by your mulching efforts.
Speaking of Effort
Think mulching sounds like a lot of work? Consider the back-breaking work of raking mounds of leaves, forming them into little piles, bagging them into giant refuse bags and setting them at the curb. Not to mention the fossil fuels and manpower used to haul those refuse bags to the landfill. Running a lawnmower or a mulching mower over your lawn doesn’t sound quite as bad now, does it?
Additional Benefits of Leaf Mulching
Unconvinced? Researchers at MSU’s Extension have determined many benefits of mulching leaves. According the Extension, after several years, the turf scientists started noticing that less fertilizer was needed to achieve the spring “green up,” and that there was a nearly 100 percent decrease in dandelions and crabgrass. Not to mention that this is an environmentally friendly practice that uses resources you already have to enhance the health and well-being of your surroundings.
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